1. Limit Your Use of Single-Serve Coffee Pods
While capsule coffee machines are tasty time-savers of the morning routine, they do pose a challenge to sustainability: they are not biodegradable. Brewing in a french press with fair trade coffee is a more environmentally sustainable alternative, through which you can support the income and food security of farmers and workers.
If you are not yet ready to give up your capsule machine yet, keep an eye out for recycling programs like the one Nespresso has recently launched.
2. Reduce Your Plastic Use
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues. Made from fossil fuels, plastic waste kills millions of animals every year, from birds to marine animals and other organisms. 700 species are known to have been affected by plastic waste. While most plastic waste is found in the oceans, microplastics can drift through the air and even contaminate municipal drinking-water supplies.
Minor adjustments can help reduce plastic waste and save the planet we share with animals, plants, and other living organisms. You can bring reusable bags for groceries, opt for reusable water bottles, switch up for bamboo toothbrushes, use bar soaps, buy and preserve food in glass jars, and of course, get on the metal straw trend! We have created plastic, and it is also in our hands to end it.
3. Refillable Make-up and Skincare
Clean beauty and sustainable beauty are taking over the fashion/beauty industry with a storm. With recyclable and reusable containers and packaging, beauty products are getting an environmentally friendly makeover. While sustainable beauty should be treated holistically, taking economic and social responsibility and ethical sourcing into account on top of environmental concerns, there are simple ways we can all implement in our daily lives to help promote change in the industry.
Many beauty brands now offer multi-use products that reduce production waste and are perfect for busy on-the-go lives. While opting for refillable products is an efficient way for vanity staples, you can also upcycle the ones you do not wish to purchase again. Cream jars into decorative vases and makeup brush holders, pods into ring storages, empty palettes into DIY travel kits — let your creativity flow as you repurpose your old makeup and skin-care products for a more sustainable life.
4. Repair and Upcycle Old Clothes
In the world of fast fashion, there is a new trend to jump on every day. However, a garbage truck full of clothes is burned or landfilled every day. Slowing down your consumption and repurposing or upcycling our old clothes can derive the change in production within the fashion industry. With a pair of scissors and a basic sewing kit, we can all build an environmentally conscious future and promote social and economic justice and fairness.
5. Bike or Walk Whenever You Can
While the global pandemic has confined us to our households for over a year now, it is still important to acknowledge how transportation impacts climate change. Relying heavily on petroleum, transportation accounts for around one-fifth of carbon emissions.
While immediately switching to a least-polluting, most efficient vehicle that still meets your needs is not the most viable solution in the short term, biking or walking whenever you can is both good for the environment and your health. Using a bike instead of a car can reduce your travel emissions by 75%.
6. Go Paperless
Decluttering your paper waste and optimizing the digital opportunities can help the environment and offer you a more productive workflow. While digitizing the backlogs sounds tiring and scares many away from the process, it is essential to realize that the goal is to cut paper’s future use. By utilizing to-do-list and scanning applications, document suites, and cloud services, to all you can access even from your phones, it is super easy to switch to paperless productivity. With online magazine subscriptions, readers, and newsletters, there are also various options to switch up your leisure habits!
7. Unplug Unnecessary Electronics
Our households are covered with cords in the digital age that sometimes we cannot even keep track of. An average household in the U.S. has 40 products that are constantly plugged in. Accounting for 10% of household energy use, unplugging unnecessary electronic devices can contribute to sustainability, protect you from power surges, and save you around $100-$200 a year.
8. Know Your Waste: Strat Composting
Composting is a natural process that transforms organic waste into richly nutritious soil. As nature’s recycling method, microorganisms break down organic matter into substances that can be used as fertilizers in our gardens — or DIY gardens.
20-30% of our trash is compostable. Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, grass and plants, shredded blank papers and newspapers, cardboards, dried leaves, napkins and paper towels, and preserves are all compostable. Click here to start your budget-friendly DIY compost bin today!
9. Change Your Lightbulbs to LED
As a durable and energy-efficient option, a LED bulb can reduce energy consumption by 80% compared to a conventional lightbulb. If every person in the U.S. replaced a regular light bulb with an LED, the energy savings could light 2.5 million homes, equivalent to the carbon emissions of 800,000 cars. Check out energy.gov to learn more about LED light bulbs before you buy one!
10. Check out Your Local Farmers Market
Visiting your local Farmers Market is a fun way to establish sustainable shopping practices. As a great way to connect with local farmers, support local food, promote sustainably grown food while purchasing directly from their vendors, your local Farmers Market is a hub for environmental, social, and economic sustainability. For our readers in New York City, you can check out grownyc.org to find out more about scheduled events.
By Elif Kesikbas